By Linda Cole
Most dog owners are familiar with the play bow dogs use to invite another dog or people to play with them. But that’s not the only signal a playful dog uses to communicate what they want. As important as it is to understand a dog’s body language to prevent problems before they start, it’s just as important to understand when your dog is playing and just wants to have some fun. A stare isn’t always meant to intimidate.
For those who may not know what a play bow is, it’s the body language dogs use to communicate to other dogs and us they aren’t a threat. Their intentions are friendly, and they are inviting us to play. The dog making the invitation puts his front legs out in front of him as if he’s getting ready to lie down, but his butt stays up in the air. His tail is held above him in a relaxed wave, and you can almost see a smile spreading across his face. Everything about his demeanor is puppy-like, happy and friendly.
Watching dogs play is an interesting expression of socialization. Playful canines love to engage in bumps, body checks, rushing at each other, growling, barking, staring and wrestling. It can appear at times like an all out battle is close at hand. This can happen if one dog has had enough play or feels a bit too intimidated by a more aggressive playing dog. Paying attention to each dog’s body language can help you determine if it’s all just play or if you need to step in and stop the game before it gets out of hand.
By Linda Cole
Channeling an active dog’s energy takes some creative thought. It can be challenging to find a good workout for a dog that seems to never run down. Not everyone has the time or desire to run an agility course or participate in other organized dog sports. The good news is there are indoor and outdoor games you can play with your active dog to help him wind down.
It’s not always possible to take your dog outside to run off energy, especially in winter when the cold and snow keeps everyone inside, except for quick duty calls. My dogs have been suffering from cabin fever because of the frigid temps. Active dogs still need exercise to get rid of excess energy, though. Inside games can give your dog a way to use up some energy while you stimulate his mind with some thinking games. You’ll need his favorite CANIDAE treats, and a space where you and your dog can move around without breaking things.
Who’s Got the Treat?
You need at least two people to play this game, and the more the merrier. Show your dog a treat, then start passing it around from one person to the next while he sits and watches. Show him the treat now and then as he follows it around. Don’t get too carried away or your dog will lose interest. After 7 or 8 passes, ask your dog to find the treat. When he discovers who has it, have him sit, lie down or perform any command he knows and give him the treat. If it’s just you and your dog, hide treats around the house for him to find.
Inside Red Light, Green Light
This game can be played with or without music. Move, dance or jump around, encouraging your dog to join in. At some point, freeze in position and give your dog the sit command. Immediately give a treat for complying, then start the game again. Each time you stop, ask him to sit until you start to move again. Instead of jumping around, you can have him follow you around the room or house, walking up and down steps, or anywhere inside or outside until you stop. Treat when he sits, then continue the game.
By Linda Cole
One nagging question dog owners have is “Why is my pet always staring at me?” Dog experts may have cracked the mystery to that question. According to a new study, dogs watch what we do, remember an action and imitate it with their own interpretation of what they saw us do.
Our long relationship with dogs has given them plenty of time to study us. They pay attention and can learn through observation. To prove this concept, researchers at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest tested dogs to see if they could learn by watching, remember what they saw and then repeat an action on command. According to the scientists, the study shows that dogs can do those things, and provides evidence for the cognitive ability of our canine friends.
Researchers tested eight adult pet dogs ranging in age from 2 to 10 years. The dogs were all female of different breeds, plus one mixed breed. They began with a preliminary test to prepare the dogs for the actual test. Taking turns, each owner had their dog stay and gave the command “Do as I do.” While the dog watched, her owner walked around a traffic cone, rang a bell hanging from a bar, or stuck their head in a bucket on the ground. Returning to the dog, the person waited 5 seconds, then gave the command, “Do it,” and waited for the dog to copy what her owner had done.
By Linda Cole
Even though my dogs are allowed on the furniture, I still have a variety of pillows and beds for them to snuggle in. Sometimes I will even tuck them in with a cover thrown over them. Now that might sound like my pets are treated like royalty, but I think a good bed is as important for dogs as our bed is for us. A dog’s bed isn’t as much for their comfort as it is for their good health. We invest in a proper bed for joint and back support, and warmth. If we had to sleep on the cold, hard floor, we would feel the effects in the morning with stiff joints and back, and our quality of sleep would be affected. It’s much the same for our dogs. And contrary to what some believe, a dog’s coat isn’t always enough to keep them warm.
Here are five reasons to get your dog a bed:
Larger breeds like Labs, German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, Great Danes and Mastiffs are more likely to suffer from arthritis as they age. Small dogs that are longer than they are tall, like the Dachshund, are also at risk of this degenerative disease. A supportive bed helps cushion joints and bones, which is especially important for older canines and dogs with arthritis or other medical issues. It’s good to keep pressure off of the joints whenever possible.
By Linda Cole
I’ve never gotten into the laser pointers people use to entertain their pets. I don’t really know why, because I can’t help but smile when I see a dog or cat chasing that little light. It’s a good way to get them up on their feet for some playtime and exercise. However, chasing that red dot can be frustrating for our furry friends, and there is a potential hazard of eye injury.
In reality, the eyesight of dogs and cats isn’t as sharp as ours when it comes to seeing distant things clearly. Dog and cat eyes are made to see best in dim light, and being able to see brilliant colors and details like we see isn’t necessary when hunting prey. Compared to our field of vision, which is looking straight ahead, dog can see 240 degrees, cats see at 200 degrees, and we come in last with a field of vision of 180 degrees. The binocular vision (where the field of vision of both eyes intersect) of humans and cats is 140 degrees compared to dogs with 30 to 60 degrees. Dogs and cats depend on movement, especially rapid movement, to see things up close. Both dogs and cats have a visual streak, which is a high density line made up of vision cells across the retina. This gives them extremely good peripheral vision for seeing motion, and dogs can see better out of the corner of their eyes than cats can.
Motion is what activates a dog or cat’s prey drive. That’s why a mouse, rabbit or small prey will freeze in place – to make it harder to be seen. Laser pointers can quickly get a pet’s attention. Not because of the little red dot, though. It’s the motion of the dot that clicks on a pet’s prey drive and catches their interest, and there’s no way they can ignore the moving light. The problem with that erratic light is that it’s impossible for a dog or cat to actually catch it, and that makes it frustrating for them. Some dogs can develop behavior problems if they become obsessed with trying to catch that darn light. Cats aren’t as likely to become obsessed because they have a tendency to lose interest faster than dogs.
By Linda Cole
One nice thing about cats is that no matter how insistent they meow for their supper, it usually won’t annoy the neighbors. A barking dog can, on the other hand. Some breeds use their voice more than others, and others will bark just for attention. Thankfully, there are some dogs that typically don’t bark a lot.
Chinese Shar-Pei – Bred in southern China as an all purpose farm dog, the wrinkly Shar-Pei dates back to at least the 1200s. The breed was highly prized as a herder, hunter, tracker, and guard dog for property and livestock. He shares his distinct blue-black tongue with only one other dog breed, the ancient Chow Chow, also from China. Shar-Pei means “sand skin” in Chinese. This breed is intelligent, devoted to his family, an independent thinker with a stubborn streak, wary of people and dogs he doesn’t know, and a good watchdog. As a general rule, the Shar-Pei only barks when he’s worried about something or during play.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – This is an ancient breed native to South Africa, developed by farmers who needed an intelligent, athletic and courageous dog for hunting, herding, and guarding livestock and the home from large predators. Also known as the African Lion Hound, the Ridgeback was used to hunt lions and leopards, holding them at bay until a hunter came. A distinctive ridge of hair along the spine, growing in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat, is how the breed got its name. The Ridgeback is extremely devoted to his family and will do what’s necessary to defend them.